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Lapid speaks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, wishes him a happy Eid al-Adha

PMO says the two discussed Biden’s upcoming visit to region, ‘need to strengthen, deepen cooperation’; Israeli PM offers condolences over deadly Aqaba gas leak

Prime Minister Yair Lapid (left) and Jordan's King Abdullah II (right). (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90; Hannibal Hanschke/Pool via AP/ File)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid (left) and Jordan's King Abdullah II (right). (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90; Hannibal Hanschke/Pool via AP/ File)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they unfolded.

Labor primaries set for August 9

Labor MK Merav Michaeli votes in the party primaries, January 24, 2020. (Courtesy)
Labor MK Merav Michaeli votes in the party primaries, January 24, 2020. (Courtesy)

The Labor party will hold primaries ahead of the November election on August 9.

“We call on anyone concerned about the future of the state and politics to join the Labor party, take part in democracy and run in the primaries,” the party says in a statement.

It is not yet clear who will be running against the party’s incumbent leader Merav Michaeli.

Israel will hold elections on November 1.

Lapid approves shuttering Eritrean embassy after ambassador blocked — report

Prime Minister Yair Lapid leads his first weekly cabinet meeting, July 3, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid leads his first weekly cabinet meeting, July 3, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who is still serving as Foreign Minister, has recently approved closing Israel’s embassy in Eritrea, the Ynet news site reports.

Lapid approved the move after Eritrea has been stalling the arrival of the ambassador for two years, Ynet says. The embassy has remained empty.

Instead, Israel will open an embassy in Mozambique, the report says.

Lapid speaks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, wishes him a happy Eid al-Adha

File: Prime Minister Yair Lapid (left) and Jordan's King Abdullah II (right). (Gili Yaari/Flash90; AP/Alex Brandon, Pool)
File: Prime Minister Yair Lapid (left) and Jordan's King Abdullah II (right). (Gili Yaari/Flash90; AP/Alex Brandon, Pool)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah II earlier Saturday night, his office says.

According to a statement, Lapid wishes the king and Jordan’s citizens a happy Eid al-Adha, and offers his condolences over a deadly gas leak in Jordan’s southern port city of Aqaba.

“King Abdullah congratulated Prime Minister Lapid on taking office and wished him success,” the statement reads.

During their call, the two “discussed the need to strengthen and deepen cooperation and relations between Israel and Jordan” as well as US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit and “regional challenges and opportunities,” Lapid’s office says.

Saudi cleric known as ‘Zionist imam’ to deliver Mount Arafat hajj sermon

Muslim World League head Mohammed al-Issa speaks to an interfaith group at Auschwitz, January 23, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/Times of Israel)
Muslim World League head Mohammed al-Issa speaks to an interfaith group at Auschwitz, January 23, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/Times of Israel)

In a gesture seen as conciliatory toward Israel, Saudi Arabia has decided that the main sermon during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Mount Arafat this year will be delivered by the cleric known as “the Zionist imam” — Mohammed al-Issa — the head of the Muslim World League, Channel 12 news reports.

Saudi media reports say the highest authorities in the kingdom issued the approval.

Channel 12 news analyst Ehud Yaari says the move is “a significant signal” regarding normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Al-Issa visited Auschwitz in 2020, has invited rabbis to Saudi Arabia, and supports interfaith dialogue.

TV report: Israel has given up on harming Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities

A person involved with security at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
A person involved with security at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

After an International Atomic Energy Agency report says Iran has begun to use advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at the underground Fordo facility, Channel 12 news claims that Israel has essentially given up on harming Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities.

Iran already has enough enriched uranium [for one or more bombs], the network says without citing a source.

The network assesses that this is the reason for alleged Israeli attacks against other factors related to Iran’s nuclear programs, such as assassinations of scientists and strikes on missile development bases, and a focus on Iran’s weaponization program.

TV report: IDF officials, government at odds over maritime talks with Lebanon

An Israeli Sa'ar Class 4.5 missile boat guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
An Israeli Sa'ar Class 4.5 missile boat guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli military officials are in favor of halting negotiations with Lebanon over a maritime border dispute, Channel 12 news reports without citing a source.

According to the network, the government has rejected the Israel Defense Forces’ recommendation and is pressing on with the talks.

The call to halt the negotiations came following attempts by the Hezbollah terror group to launch drones at the Karish gas field, which sits in a maritime area that both Lebanon and Israel claim as their own.

The maritime border dispute between the two nations has been ongoing for several years. Despite US attempts to broker a deal, talks have repeatedly stalled over the issue, although US Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein said last week that some progress had been made in recent negotiations.

Channel 12 says there “may” be some additional progress during US President Joe Biden’s trip to the region.

Regev says Shaked won’t be placed on Likud’s list for election

Likud MK Miri Regev speaking to the media after testifying to the state commission of inquiry into the tragedy at Mount Meron on May 24, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK Miri Regev speaking to the media after testifying to the state commission of inquiry into the tragedy at Mount Meron on May 24, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK Miri Regev says there is no chance Ayelet Shaked will be given a reserved spot on the party’s list ahead of the November elections.

In April, Likud officials reportedly offered Yamina lawmakers, including Shaked, top spots on its slate.

“The person who will for sure not get a reserve spot is Ayelet Shaked,” Regev tells Channel 12 news.

“She lost the opportunity at the end of the day to do the right thing, after she was part of the first Palestinian-Israeli government,” Regev says, referring to the Arab members of Israel’s government.

“She lied to the public with [Naftali] Bennett,” she says, calling on Likud members not to vote for Shaked if she runs in the party’s primaries.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked in the plenum hall of the Knesset, on June 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Sri Lanka prime minister’s house set on fire, police say

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A mob stormed into Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s home in Colombo on Saturday evening and set it ablaze, police and his office said.

“Protesters have broken into the private residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and have set it on fire,” his office said in a statement.

Yamina’s Abir Kara says he isn’t establishing new party ahead of election

Yamina MK Abir Kara arrives for a meeting with Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett and fellow Yamina MKs, at Bennett's home in Ra'anana, on June 4, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Yamina MK Abir Kara arrives for a meeting with Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett and fellow Yamina MKs, at Bennett's home in Ra'anana, on June 4, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Yamina MK Abir Kara says he doesn’t plan to establish a new party ahead of the November elections.

“I am not forming a party,” he says to Channel 12 news, but adds that he is in favor of merging with other parties with similar values.

Yamina has lost several members in recent months, including the party’s leader, former prime minister Naftali Bennett, who said he would not run in the coming election.

UAE pledges $25 million in aid for East Jerusalem hospital

Palestinians leave the Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem, September 9, 2018. (Mahmoud Illean/AP)
Palestinians leave the Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem, September 9, 2018. (Mahmoud Illean/AP)

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan has pledged $25 million to support the al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, according to the United Arab Emirates state-run WAM news agency.

The pledge comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region.

Al-Makassed hospital, located in a-Tur, is one of six hospitals in the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.

Biden is reportedly going to visit a different hospital in the network on Friday.

The Biden administration will use the opportunity to announce a significant funding initiative for the network, according to an Israeli official.

The hospital network is not formally run by the PA and works with Israeli health providers, but it also plays a key role in the Palestinian health care system. Much of the network’s operating budget comes from treating Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, for which the PA foots the bill.

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